Transition from High School to College

Before the semester you plan to attend

Find out about your disability

  • Talk with your parents, doctor, psychologist, or high school special education teacher/guidance counselor to learn about your disability and how it affects your education
  • Go to the library or access the Internet and obtain information about your disability
  • Discuss the availability of community resources with your high school special education teacher, guidance counselor and health care professionals
  • Learn about your rights

Actively participate in IEP conferences and transition related meetings both at school and with rehabilitation services

  • Participate in Self-Advocacy Training (ask a special education teacher, Developmental Disabilities Council, disability specific support groups, higher education accessibility support services offices)
  • Gain knowledge of due process procedures
  • Learn how to express your current and future needs, interests, and preferences
  • Realize it is okay to ask questions about anything you don’t understand
  • Make sure your disability testing is updated your senior year

Prepare for the college entrance examination

  • Determine which entrance exam is required for admission to the college of your choice; get assistance from the college testing office, parents, teachers and high school counselors
  • Study for your college entrance exam by enrolling in exam prep programs (e.g., ACT prep courses through the education cooperatives), accessing study guides, watching video tapes and working with computer programs
  • Pick up a test packet from the college testing office or your high school counselor’s office and complete it
  • Complete a request for accommodation form for the exam you need well in advance. That gives you time to retake exams if you are not satisfied with your scores

Develop a personal information file which contains:

  • Copy of current Information:
    • Current school records
    • Medical records
    • Immunization records
    • Social Security Card
    • Psychological records
    • Birth Certificate
    • Copy of current IEP
    • Copy of transcript
    • Academic testing results
    • Other information related to your disability
    • Letters of acceptance from the college or university
    • Any other information you think you might need
  • Make sure that you make and keep copies of everything you send and receive and organize them so you can find the information easily

Contact Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) or Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB) to learn if you’re eligible for services

  • Make an appointment with a VR or RSB counselor to determine if they can provide you with services
  • According to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, VR or RSB may provide the following support if you meet their employment-related eligibility requirements
    • An assessment for determining eligibility and priority of services;
    • Assessment for determining vocational rehabilitation needs;
    • Vocational Rehabilitation counseling and guidance, including personal adjustment counseling, to maintain a counseling relationship throughout the program of services for an individual with a disability;
    • Physical and mental restoration services to correct or substantially modify a physical or mental condition which is stable or slowly progressive;
    • Vocational and other training services, including personal and vocational adjustment, books, tools, and other training materials;
    • Maintenance, not to exceed the estimated cost of subsistence;
    • Transportation;
    • Services to a client’s family when necessary to the adjustment or rehabilitation of the client;
    • Interpreter services and note-taking services for deaf individuals, including tactile interpreting for deaf-blind individuals;
    • Reader services, rehabilitation teaching services, note-taking services and orientation and mobility services;
    • Recruitment and training services;
    • Job search, placement assistance and job retention services;
    • Supported employment;
    • Personal assistance services;
    • Post-employment services necessary to maintain employment;
    • Occupational licenses (including any license, permit, or other written authority) required by a state, city, or other governmental unit to be obtained in order to enter an occupation;
    • Rehabilitation technology services;
    • Transition services in accordance with the definition of the term;
    • Technical assistance;
    • Other goods and services determined necessary for the individual with a disability to achieve an employment outcome.

Please note: A complete copy of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act with the most current amendments should be available from VR, RSB, or you local Center for Independent Living

Apply for financial assistance

  • Pick up a financial aid packet from your high school counselor’s office or College financial aid office
  • Complete the application, following instructions included in the packet; mail as early in the semester before you plan to attend as possible
  • Request scholarship information from your high school guidance counselor or College financial aid office
  • Contact local service clubs and other organizations to see if they are awarding any scholarships
  • Contact state and national disability organizations
  • Search the local library and Internet for information on scholarships

Select and plan educational choices

  • Select the college(s) you are interested in attending and plan a visit
  • Identify potential barriers to access and investigate how each institution can work with you to achieve equal access
  • If the College you are interested in attending does not have a clearly designated accessibility support services office, you will need to request the name of the program or staff person who has the responsibility for accommodating students with disabilities on campus
  • Based on your investigation, contact the College(s) you feel have academic programs that match your interests and that will work to provide usable, equitable, inclusive and sustainable learning environments
  • Request an application from the College(s) you are interested in or check to see if there is an online application
  • Fill out the forms and send them in or apply online
  • Pay the application fee (if any)
  • Have official transcripts and other documents specified on the application sent to the Admissions office

Congratulations! You have picked a college and have been accepted!

Register with their accessibility support office (or other designated office)

  • Make an appointment to meet with a staff person
  • Provide documentation of disability (many colleges and universities require documentation that is not over 3-5 years old for disabilities that are not clearly visible or that can change over time)
  • Collaborate with staff in coming up with possible accommodations (i.e. extended time for exams, books in alternate format, interpreters, assistive listening devices, etc.)

Make sure you have transportation

  • How are you going to get to school, and is your transportation reliable?
  • Have a back-up plan for emergencies
  • Consider living on or near campus

Other supports not provided by the school

  • If you use a personal assistant, who will provide these services and how will this affect your schedule?
  • Develop a back-up plan for times when your regular assistant is unavailable
  • Develop a contact list for such things as equipment repairs, interpreters for non-school activities, medical services, etc.

Register for classes

  • Meet with an academic advisor to decide what classes you need to take
  • When planning your schedule make certain you will be able to get to class on time in the mornings if you receive personal assistant services; provide yourself with enough time to get from class to class throughout the day and plan for breaks if you need them
  • Register as early as possible if you need books in alternate format or interpreters, or need to have breaks between classes
  • Obtain accessible text and materials for classes
  • If you use books, exams and other materials in an alternate format, request this as early as possible with the disability services office – this will help ensure that you will have your materials in time
  • Make sure you request the other accommodations (i.e. extended time for exams, taping lectures, interpreters, etc.) in a timely manner

If problems arise

  • Communicate with your instructors throughout the semester
  • If you have trouble with a course, teacher, or accommodation you should go immediately to the accessibility support services office (or other designated office) to report it and to request assistance in getting the problem resolved
  • Learn about all the services that are on your campus (e.g., disability services office, tutoring services, writing lab, assistive technology, computer lab, counseling center, etc.)

Adapted with permission from the Disability Resource Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.